State-of-the-art modeling of the four legendary EMT 140 reverb plates housed at Abbey Road Studios and used on recordings by the Beatles and Pink Floyd.
Precise modeling of four legendary Abbey Road reverb plates (EMT 140), each with its unique character
A drive control to set the THD characteristics of the in/out amplifiers and the plate sheet itself
Ability to control the amount of analog noise and hum
Four original bass cut positions
Crosstalk between the stereo inputs to get a stereo leak effect
Introduced in the 1950s, plate reverbs have been a fixture of recorded music ever since. Used most prominently in the ‘60s and ‘70s by pioneering bands, including the Beatles and Pink Floyd, Abbey Road Studios’ original reverb plates – four EMT 140 units – were first installed in 1957 to complement the fixed reverberation times of the studios’ echo chambers. These beautiful-sounding plates, with a variable reverb time of up to six seconds, were then tweaked to perfection by Abbey Road's technical engineers. To keep noise to a minimum, EMI’s Central Research Laboratories designed unique hybrid solid-state drive amps for Plates A, B and C. Plate D was fully valve-powered on both drive and output stages, allowing a versatile array of sonic characteristics, from warm and dark to lush and smooth.
In each of these original plates, the stereo reverb effect is created by suspending a large sheet of metal with tensioned springs attached to each corner. A transducer injects the metal sheet with audio energy, which is picked up by two contact mics fixed to the surface of the plate. The reverb time can then be adjusted by using an internal damper, and all of this is contained within a large wooden unit.
These historic Abbey Road plates have been used on countless seminal pop, rock, classical and film recordings over the years, and continue to be used in all kinds of audio production to this day. Waves has now created meticulous models of these stunning and unique-sounding units, individually modeling the harmonic distortion of both the drive and output amps as well as the individual plate/damper behaviors.
The Original EMT 140 Reverb Plates at Abbey Road
For the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead and many others, the reverb plates at Abbey Road Studios – now modeled by Waves – have been invaluable. Read about their history and the technology behind them.
One of the unique tools available to artists recording at Abbey Road Studios in the mid-twentieth century was access to the studios’ three echo chambers for the creation of unique reverb effects. The sound created by the chambers was very natural, but not easily adjustable, allowing only a single fixed reverb and decay time per chamber. With just three chambers existing to facilitate reverb for all of Abbey Road’s recording, remix and transfer rooms, availability would often also be an issue. To combat this, in 1957, Abbey Road Studios purchased four brand new state-of-the-art plate reverb units to complement the existing chambers.
Designed in Germany by EMT, these were the first professional electro-mechanical artificial reverb units made available to studios worldwide. At 8 feet long, 4 feet tall and 1 foot wide, these plates were considerably more compact than the chamber rooms. Each plate contained a large sheet (or “plate”) of steel suspended vertically by a set of springs to allow it to resonate, and was fixed to a stable steel frame. A small transducer speaker was fixed to the plate’s center point, and when a signal was played through the speaker, the plate would begin to vibrate, sustaining the tone for several seconds. Two pickups were attached to each plate, on both sides of the speaker, a quarter of the distance from the plate’s edge. The pickups sensed the vibration, converted it to a line level, and sent it to the output plate amplifier.
Unlike the reverb chambers, these plates had a damper system that allowed adjustment of the reverb decay time. The damper system consisted of a fiberglass panel suspended parallel to the plate, which could move towards or away from the plate sheet. The damper could control variable distances, ranging from 1/8” away from the plate for a one-second reverberation time, to 2” away from the plate for a five-second decay. This system let the user tune the decay time with whatever precision was required to meet the needs of the particular recording or mixing session. Since the plates were not located inside the control room, engineers could set the damper position using a remote control system.To this day, Abbey Road Studios house the four reverb plates – labeled A, B, C and D. Plate D has all-valve amplifiers on both the input and output stages, consisting of E81L, E80CC and EF804ES valves. Plates A, B and C also have an all-valve amplifier on the input, but on the output stage EMI Central Research Laboratories custom-built hybrid solid-state/valve amplifiers, in an attempt to keep the noise floor to a minimum. The sound of the plates is generally considered smoother than that of an echo chamber, if not entirely natural. Most Abbey Road engineers initially preferred the more organic-sounding chambers, but this became less of an issue when bands started to experiment with psychedelic sounds and ‘natural’ sounding recording techniques were becoming less in vogue for pop music.
Due to the nature of analog valve equipment and manufacturing techniques (plus the EMI custom-built amps), no two plates sound the same: each has its own distinctive sonic characteristics. Ever since the Sgt. Pepper era in the 1960s, these four plates have seen significant use on nearly every pop recording done at Abbey Road Studios – from the Beatles and Pink Floyd to Radiohead, Adele, James Blake, Florence + the Machine and Frank Ocean. The plates even started being favored by some of the classical engineers, and before long were being used on a wealth of films scores – so much so that the plates would often have to be booked well in advance of sessions to guarantee their availability.
CPU -Intel Core i5 / i7 / Xeon
8 GB RAM
8 GB free disk space on the system drive
Operating System - 10.11.6 - 10.14
Recommended: 1280x1024 / 1600x1024
USB displays are not supported as the primary display.
Support for Visually Impaired Users
Mac OS Sierra 10.12.4
VoiceOver Utility enabled
Pro Tools 12.7
Please note: Waves Central and preset management via the WaveSystem Toolbar are currently not supported.
Producer and engineer Billy Bush has produced some of my favorite bands, Garbage, Muse, Against Me!, and Snow Patrol. In this video, he shows creative ways to use the Abbey Road Reverb Plates plug-in on vocals, guitars, and drums. He explains how to choose specific reverb sounds to differentiate verses and choruses.